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Francis : voice with piano

by Betty Beath (1973)

Audio Sample

Performance by Susan Lorette Dunn, Betty Beath from the CD River songs

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River songs


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River songs / Betty Beath ... [et al.].

Library shelf no. CD 130 [Available for loan]



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Francis / music by Betty Beath ; words by David Cox.

Library shelf no. Q 783.2542/BEA 2 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

Francis, with words by David Cox, is a solo song written for tenor Henry Howell; it also includes an optional spoken introduction. Henry sang this solo many times when visiting parish churches in towns and cities while touring for the Queensland Opera Company. He requested that the spoken introduction, which I include below, should preface his performance.

St. Francis of Assisi was a colourful figure in a plain brown robe. In history and legend of religion he is the most beloved of saints. As a youth, the son of a rich merchant, he was a leader of the wild lads of Assisi who drank and capered through their nights. Francis had not found his way, though more and more, a nameless ambition was building in his soul. "I shall be a great man", he said. War took his fancy, and he imagined he had discovered his vocation in the service of nobles and his ultimate ambition in knighthood. But a voice addressed him one night as he slept, "Francis, who can do more for you, the Lord or the Servant?"

"The Lord", he answered.

"Therefore, why do you leave the Lord for the Servant and the Prince for the vassal?"

There were many difficulties ahead, but Francis had found his road. His was the ambition greater than all ambitions, he leader the greatest of leaders.

Francis came to be known as 'The Little Christ of Umbria'.

Work Details

Year: 1973

Instrumentation: Medium voice (male or female), piano.

Duration: 3 min.

Difficulty: Medium

Contents note:  

Written for: Henry Howell

Commission note: Commissioned by Henry Howell.

First performance: by Henry Howell — Sep 73. Manchester

The composer has written that this work for solo voice, is for either tenor or soprano, and piano accompaniment.

Performances of this work

Sep 73: Manchester. Featuring Henry Howell.

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